This is the rumor that we touched on a few weeks ago, a rumor that seems to have only gained momentum in recent days.
Most of you weren’t that interested in the Bruins trading for Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, mainly due to his course and the length of his contract.
However, there was a ton of gossip around Ekman-Larsson and the Bruins today, mostly from wired reporters north of the border.
First, from TSN’s Darren Dreger:
Boston and Arizona, we were in commercial discussions for OEL before Bill Armstrong arrived. Not an easy transaction. Vancouver, like my colleague @FriedgeHNIC the other team is noted on the OEL list. Sharpen your Canucks fan pencils and try to get the numbers working on it.
– Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2020
More information on insider trading. Arizona is working with Boston and Vancouver, the two teams identified by OEL as top destinations. Too early to say how it will end. Arizona may need to take over one or more contracts.
– Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) October 1, 2020
Dreger expanded on those thoughts in this insider trading segment (starts around 1:10), claiming that Ekman-Larsson named the Bruins and Canucks as the two teams (weird grammar, huh?) He would agree to a trade-off .
Ekman-Larson’s new contract, which just started last season, has a no-move clause, so the ball is sort of in his court.
Dreger added that while the Coyotes don’t want to, they may have resigned themselves to having to either eat some of Ekman-Larsson’s money or take over some contracts.
And then from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
It is believed that Ekman-Larsson’s list (for now) includes BOS and VAN. Things can always change.
– Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 1, 2020
Also, according to savebyryder in the comments, Coyotes reporter Craig Morgan mentions that the Bruins have been a “preferred destination”; Morgan breaks down the league-wide perception of Ekman-Larsson on his website.
Phew … do you have all that?
Why are the Coyotes trading Ekman-Larsson?
While the Coyotes haven’t quite come out and have said they are definitely trading Ekman-Larsson, the league-wide perception appears to be that the Coyotes captain will be on the move.
But why trade in your captain, a guy who still has seven years on his contract?
It seems like it mostly comes down to the money, as Ekman-Larsson is the Coyotes’ highest paid player.
With rumors that the property has ordered management to cut payroll and other rumors that the Coyotes have struggled to get checks to clear recently, it makes sense that Ekman-Larsson is on the move.
Dreger also noted that there was some pressure from the player to make a deal. Simply put, Ekman-Larsson asked.
Does Ekman-Larsson make sense to the Bruins?
In the void? Sure. He’s a good defenseman, and with the Bruins probably losing at least one good defenseman this offseason, having a replacement isn’t a bad thing.
However, this contract… it’s a big contract. $ 8.25 million from AAV for seven more seasons, all for a guy who turns 30 in July.
This is a lot to consider.
Ekman-Larsson would make the Bruins better, but he could also cripple the team in a few years. Is it worth going there?
What would an Ekman-Larsson trade with the Bruins look like?
The Coyotes, given the purported mandate to save money, would likely focus on choices and prospects in exchange for their captain.
The choices would be particularly important, given the sanctions recently imposed on the franchise.
The Bruins are handing out their first round picks like Halloween candy, so let’s assume that at least one first round pick is in play. You’ll need to add another high pick as well.
For prospects, who does the Bruins really have to offer? Jack Studnicka must be close to the untouchable at this point, but he would likely pique Arizona’s curiosity.
Urho Vaakanainen can help partially fill the void left by Ekman-Larsson. Other than that, the Bruins closet is pretty sparse. Guys like Jeremy Swayman, Jakub Lauko and Trent Frederic are probably much more valuable inside the organization than outside.
Frankly, I find it hard to see what the Bruins could offer Arizona that would get them to close a deal, but I’ve been wrong a few times before.
What about the part of the discharge of wages?
As mentioned above, the Coyotes may have resigned themselves to accepting a contract in return or eating part of the Ekman-Larsson deal.
However, when you look at it, the Bruins don’t really have a ton of terrible contracts now that David Backes is in Anaheim.
David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle are the Bruins’ highest paid forwards.
The last four are not going anywhere. Although Krejci has a big contract, he also has a modified no-trade clause and only has one year left on his deal. To be frank, Krejci has absolutely no way of accepting a trade with Arizona.
The only real wildcard here would be Tuukka Rask. If Don Sweeney has decided it’s time to leave Rask, that $ 7 million AAV could be something he seeks for Arizona.
However, like Krejci, Rask has a no-trade clause. Like Krejci, I don’t see Rask accepting a move to the desert.
So while the Coyotes may be interested in taking over a contract, the Bruins don’t have a ton of contracts to unload. Instead, they’d better let Arizona eat some of the money.
So… what’s the next step?
Who knows? Your guess is as good as anyone’s. We’ll spend the next couple of weeks wondering if an Ekman-Larsson swap is a good idea.
At least that’s something we’re talking about!